Today, when only the biggest eCommerce sites like Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, Etsy, etc are the only ones with huge global acknowledgment, why it is still said that eCommerce is a hit?
The reason is, despite only a few big sites are in the global limelight, the niche based inventory model sites are doing so well in their limited local market. The brick and mortar based business owners are budding into eCommerce entrepreneurs by adopting easiest solutions to make their retail an online shop.
The easiest solutions that I am talking about are the various eCommerce platforms that provide a ready-made eCommerce site on the go. PrestaShop is one such eCommerce platform which is becoming popular among the eCommerce entrepreneurs day after day. A large number of eCommerce business aspirants has chosen this platform to launch the eCommerce site of their dreams and claim their share in the huge profit that eCommerce generates each second.
- PrestaShop was launched on 31st July 2008, in France.
- Currently, it is powering more than 250,000 eCommerce sites worldwide in 60 different languages.
- PrestaShop Shares the total market share of 9% for open-source eCommerce platforms.
- According to W3Techs, there are total 0.5% PrestaShop websites out of all the websites on the internet.
This is an impressive stat. 0.5% of total websites on the internet is a huge share. So, PrestaShop is very popular I guess.
In all these good talks about PrestaShop, haven’t we ignored the fact that PrestaShop is not the most popular eCommerce platform? I mean if PrestaShop is the best that you can have for your startup, why Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce etc are being chosen by several other entrepreneurs?
The reason is, none of the eCommerce platforms can be said to be a perfect solution. Factors that differentiate these platforms and allow them to survive parallelly highly depend on requirements, usability, flexibility, modules, ease of use and a lot more.
This is where you need to ask yourself “Is PrestaShop a perfect solution for your eCommerce stratup?” Let’s examine it.
Usability is one factor that makes PrestaShop better than most of the eCommerce platforms. Most of the entrepreneurs come from a non-technical background. They hardly have the knowledge of coding and other technical stuff.
Luckily PrestaShop has been designed to be used by any kind of user. It doesn’t matter if you are a tech savvy user or have zero coding skills, You can setup a store and manage it all without any hassle.
From installation to configuring the whole website, from product uploads to managing the orders from your customers, you get the easiest interfaces to do it all.
You can install PrestaShop using the guided interface that clearly explains everything you need to do in the process. In fact, the cloud version of PrestaShop saves you from the hassle of installation and directly provides the ready-made store, waiting for you to upload the products and start selling on the go.
PrestaShop possesses a number of built-in features to get a ready made store for you. These features include:
- Store personalization
- SEO friendly URLs
- Product upload management
- Shipping management
- Supply management
- Customer management
- Discount management
- Order Management etc.
Apart from these features, the platform allows the addition of any number of new features through PrestaShop modules. By simply installing a PrestaShop module, you can add a functionality that has not been given in the default system. Moreover, you can also enhance the built-in functionalities through these modules.
For example, Social Login is a quite important requirement for the eCommerce website to improve their site’s usability for their customers but is not present in default PrestaShop system. The good news is, you can easily integrate this functionality by installing a social login module.
The extensiveness in PrestaShop is not limited to the modules only. It saves you from the cost and effort of designing your new eCommerce store by simply allowing third party PrestaShop themes to be installed.
Frankly, every other eCommerce platform allows the module and theme extension, then how it makes PrestaShop better than them? This question takes me to my next point.
PrestaShop has a huge community of users, developers, and website owners. It is one of the most active communities where you can find the solutions for everything about PrestaShop.
This highly active community consist of a very big population of third-party PrestaShop developers. These developers contribute to the community by developing the PrestaShop modules, themes, and templates for every trending need and requirement.
The official PrestaShop marketplace is a hub of all your modules, themes, and template requirements. Moreover, some big community developers also sell their modules and other developments on their own official sites. You need to just Google your requirement, and a large number of PrestaShop modules fulfilling them would be shown to you in the SERPs.
This is where PrestaShop beats most of the eCommerce platforms available today. As compared to other eCommerce platforms, PrestaShop modules and themes are so easily available and at a very lower cost than others. It is because of the massive competition among the developers, you can get some pretty fair deal in modules, themes and other custom developments from these developers.
Mobile Optimization is not an option, it has become a necessity today. If your eCommerce site is not optimized for mobile viewing you will loose your business in no time.
PrestaShop is a mobile-ready platform, which has been fully optimized for responsive viewing. The well optimized mobile responsive shopping cart allows your customers to easily shop on your site from their mobile phones.
Not just the shopping cart, the default PrestaShop theme is also fully mobile responsive. That means, your shoppers can browse anything and everything on your site without having an irritating experience on their mobile phones.
Moreover, almost all of the third-party modules and themes are also mobile responsive as the developers too know that mobile is important for your business. This mobile friendliness of PrestaShop is enough to make it one of the best eCommerce platforms in terms of usability for the customers.
This mainly includes comprehensive information about installation, features, settings, version upgrade, and much more. There are official as well as third-party forums and communities that support the website owners in various tasks and issue resolution activities.
The PrestaShop forums or community officially support the users by answering their queries. Moreover, they also provide paid support and training courses whenever you require. This also includes custom module development as per your requirement.
There is very little left to talk about the flexibility as I have talked a lot about it when I mentioned about the modules and themes to extend the functionalities. Something that I would like to add in this would be the possibility of developing a module for almost every requirement you can think of. Other platforms also allow modules and themes to be installed, so what’s the difference here?
The difference is there in the feasibility to develop modules for a wide variety of needs and requirement. In fact, with a single module installation, you can even get even the most complex functionalities.
A perfect example of one such module is the “Marketplace Module”. A single PrestaShop module that can convert your whole PrestaShop store into a fully-fledged marketplace site.
Before the first marketplace module was introduced, no one would have thought that an originally inventory based eCommerce platform can also be used to develop a huge marketplace site. A site where you can add and manage new sellers/vendors.
This is the kind of flexibility that PrestaShop provides which is not found in most of the other eCommerce platforms.
PrestaShop is fully open-source and free eCommerce platform. This means you don’t need to spend a penny if you want to use PrestaShop platform to build your online store. You can download the PrestaShop file for free and install it on your web server. As soon as you install it, you are ready to start selling from your store without spending a single amount.
Unlike various other hosted eCommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion etc, PrestaShop does not charge you for using it as a platform to build your site.
The places where you will need to spend some money are:
- Installing a paid PrestaShop theme
- Installing a paid PrestaShop module
- Getting a custom theme or module
- Hosting your website with a paid web host and
- Paid training courses
These expenditures are important, necessary, and you will happily pay for them if you require them. With PrestaShop, at least you can save the money that would have been spent it getting an access to the platform itself.
The features and benefits of PrestaShop that I have mentioned in the above points are the ones that make PrestaShop stand out from the rest. However, I have not mentioned the basic functions because it’s understandable that PrestaShop does not omit these basic features either. PrestaShop seamlessly provides these features too:
- Fully functional and easy to use Back-end interface.
- Flexibility to support a large number of payment options.
- Flexibility to Provide multiple payment options to customers at a time.
- SEO friendly URLs for any controller or page on your store.
- CMS page management.
- Extensive shipping management.
- Multi-lingual platform- more than 60 languages.
- Multi-store feature.
- Easily available latest security patches and upgrades.
- Comprehensive reporting system etc.
As mentioned in the beginning, PrestaShop is not the most popular platform. What could be the reasons? Is it a wrong turn to adopt PrestaShop?
I can certainly say, it would not be a wrong turn to choose PrestaShop. It is just that not all the eCommerce platforms have everything you would need. The needs and requirements for a perfect and highly competitive eCommerce platform are changing day by day. The platform which can match up with the changing trends can only become the entrepreneurs choice.
Despite PrestaShop already provides all the essential features by default, it lags some important trends that have become a necessity for today’s entrepreneur. For example, It has been ages when social login feature was introduced to the websites and developers.
Even after so many upgrades and updates, PrestaShop has not included this feature in the default installation. A website owner seeking this very basic feature has to purchase a third party module for the same.
PrestaShop depends on third party and official modules for most of the trending features. Probably they do not want to burden the default installation with the features that can be easily achieved by installing a simple module.
By carry-forward I mean the ability of the PrestaShop modules to be used with all the major versions without any change in the module.
The recent major upgrades still supported by PrestaShop include:
- PrestaShop version 1.5
- PrestaShop version 1.6
- PrestaShop version 1.7
Each time when a new major upgrade is released and if you decide to upgrade to the new version you will not be able to use your old PrestaShop modules or theme on the new version. That is, either you need to upgrade your module according to the new PrestaShop version or buy a new module developed for the new major version.
Luckily, there is not much to worry as a PrestaShop store owner. Third party developers are highly active and they make their modules compatible with the new version as soon as it is released. If you are lucky you need to just ask your module developers for the upgrade they will provide you the new module version without any cost.
PrestaShop is best suited for small to medium sized businesses. When it comes to scaling it as a fully-fledged giant eCommerce site, it is not the best option. With a massively increased scale of the store, you may notice lags in the various aspects like page loading time, back-ends performance, database overload etc.
By a fully fledged website, we mean the very big eCommerce sites that can be compared with the biggest eCommerce giants. If you have the intention to build another Amazon, probably you must look for an enterprise level solution like Magento Enterprise edition or build your own framework.
Scalability limit on PrestaShop is not that small as it seems. You can handle thousands of SKUs, Sellers, and Customers without any hassle. In case if you have millions of SKUs in your mind then PrestaShop could be a wrong turn.
PrestaShop has proven to be an efficient eCommerce platform and is still trying its best to prove better on various grounds. Of course, it’s not a perfect solution, and there are limitations with major upgrades, scalability. However, considering its target users, it has got everything they would need to launch a successful medium sized eCommerce site.
Nevertheless, it offers various benefits and greater flexibility with a competitively lower investment cost. It cannot be termed as a perfect platform but would not be a wrong turn either.
I can say that Magento is a better solution than PrestaShop for large scale eCommerce sites. While PrestaShop could be a great choice for small to medium sized business which is comparatively more in number.